The ever-expanding toolkit – what’s behind Student Talks?

old-140626_640In the past year or so since I started with Student Talks, I’ve learned quite a bit. Mainly, I’ve learnt that I’ve only scratched the surface of event management, online marketing, web development, and graphic design. While hacking solutions together to the million and one things that crop up day-to-day I’ve had to touch on all those topics, finding some great resources and helpful tools along the way. While I’m sure that some of these tools will be familiar to you as you read this, I think it can be helpful to see what really works for people, and can give you new ideas. I’ve found most of these tools myself through seeing someone else do something cool with them, then trying it out myself, not by Googling “____ tool” and choosing the top result.

I’ll start with the website stuff – you may have noticed that this site uses Wordpress. I use Wordpress (and other content management systems) at my day job too, and the more I use it the more I become convinced that it can do anything. So far, I haven’t hit an issue I can’t solve anyway. Between custom themes, plugins, and the choice to edit or completely rewrite code if needs be, it’s amazingly customisable.

To make it easy to submit content, we use Google Forms to create customised forms for whatever we need. Surveying tools are another thing I’m familiar with from my day job, and Google Forms is the best all-rounder I’ve come across. It’s easy to set up and interact with – perfect for us!

Not to totally fanboy (fangirl?), but we also use Google Drive as our main work hub! Our whole team can collaborate remotely when needs be knowing that everything is backed up. Being able to access all our documents whenever we need to has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion.

One really cool thing that never fails to impress me is IFTTT. This is a tool that helps you create “recipes” to connect and automate services in a way that helps you. For example, one thing we do is link our Instagram to our other social channels to share our pictures more effectively.

Some other daily-use tools:

  • Hootsuite/Buffer – One or both is essential in managing social media. Use them to schedule and coordinate content across platforms.
  • Canva/Pablo (Buffer)- I’ve just started using Canva to create personalised images with messages, Buffer’s Pablo tool is similar but a little less flexible. I also use Pixabay to find public domain pictures to use with these. 
  • Google Keep/Calendar – A combination of the two basically hold my life together. Honourable mention to Trello for coordinating to-do lists, particularly for teams.
  • Mailchimp, Eventbrite – both were brilliant when we were organising the last conference. We try not to annoy people with emails too often but when we do, Mailchimp makes it a little less painful!

As I said to begin, I hope that this insight into our favourite tools helps and maybe gives you some ideas for your own work. I’ve found that automating or reducing the tedious tasks increases my overall productivity, and makes the never-ending to-do list a lot less daunting, which is incredibly important as STARTED is only getting bigger! 

Laura O'Connor
Laura O'Connor

Laura is the resident techie at Student Talks, managing the website and social media. A researcher by day, she's interested in the intersection between psychology and IT.